New deli to open on Douglas Block

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Yalem Kiros, center, and her husband Ed Wiley III, left, talk with Tina Taylor during the soft opening for NABS Deli and Coffee Shop on Thursday in downtown Rocky Mount.


Staff Writer

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A combination delicatessen and coffee shop is going to be opening downtown in the Douglas Block and just steps away from the Rocky Mount Event Center.

"I think I've created the most beautiful space for downtown, if I may say so," said Yalem Kiros, who is going to be operating NABS, which stands for Never A Better Sandwich. "I want people to walk in here and say, 'Wow! Where am I?'"

Kiros, 56, is a native of Ethiopia, long one of the world's leading coffee producing countries, and she showed a roasting machine in place in NABS so she and her team can serve fresh coffee.

NABS is going to occupy spaces in the 200 block of Northeast Main Street, including the part that was home to a Subway restaurant from autumn 2011 to spring 2013.

Kiros noted part of NABS being in the former Subway is an advantage because she did not have to do much preparation work on that space for a deli. For the future coffee shop, she secured vacant next-door space.

She said her bottom line is places have been opening downtown, but not in the Douglas Block.

"So, we thought the timing was perfect," she said.

Kiros is quite a familiar person on the Douglas Block scene.

She and her husband, Ed Wiley, have The Prime Smokehouse Barbecue & Beyond in the 200 block of East Thomas Street. The restaurant is ranked as the best one in the city on the travel-centric TripAdvisor website.

The couple had been restaurateurs in the Research Triangle area before relocating their business to downtown Rocky Mount in 2013.

That was approximately a couple of years after completion of the redevelopment of the Douglas Block, which was once a thriving historically African-American business district.

Kiros emphasized when she and her husband opened their dining establishment along East Thomas, there was a need for a downtown restaurant.

"But within a year or two we realized there was a need for a downtown coffee shop — and actually more than a coffee shop, a deli," she said.

She said she and her husband had been considering such a concept for the past couple of years.

"And with all the changes in downtown, we just thought this would be such a great place for people to come together for lunch, coffee, breakfast," she said.

She said the plan is for NABS to offer freshly baked goods in the morning, as well as eggs.

The deli menu shows NABS after breakfast plans to offers club sandwiches, combo sandwiches, jumbo sandwiches, meatball sub sandwiches, Reuben sandwiches and chili dogs.

NABS also plans to offer Caesar salads, chef salads, grilled chicken salads, tuna salads and more than half a dozen kinds of soups.

On the coffee shop side, NABS plans to offer cappuccinos, frappes and lattes and a variety of teas as well as hot chocolate and spiced apple cider.

As for the clientele being sought for NABS, Kiros said, "The people that are employed in downtown."

Kiros was quick to note the presence of banks, City Hall and a variety of business operators and shopkeepers.

She is enthusiastic about downtown and believes the center of the city should be a scene of art stores, clothing stores, galleries, restaurants, spas and shoe stores.

And she said she hopes NABS is going to inspire people to open businesses in the heart of Rocky Mount.

She said although the advance process may take time, as far as opening up a business downtown, "It's doable."

As for how many employees she is going to have at NABS, she said she thinks 15-16 people, noting some are going to be full time and some are going to be part time.

NABS had soft openings on Thursday and Friday, with the plan being to officially open for business by Monday.

Kiros said the business hours for now at NABS are going to be 7 a.m. to approximately 3-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to approximately 2-3 p.m. on Saturdays.

And NABS has set up a page on Facebook.